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CODE4LIB  November 2012

CODE4LIB November 2012

Subject:

Re: Beyond mentoring

From:

Karen Coyle <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 29 Nov 2012 11:13:25 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (94 lines)

As a chronic "persister" (defined: one who persists even when not 
encouraged: thanks to Arianna for pointing to: Unlocking the Clubhouse 
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/47054696) I'm going to persist with this 
thread even though it hasn't gotten picked up in the discussion. 
(Although it has gotten some nice tweets. Thanks!)

We started with Bess's call for an anti-harassment policy. Harassment of 
any kind is obviously not acceptable, so creating a policy and enforcing 
its intent is unquestionable. But harassment is the overt form of 
something that is mostly covert. You can have a perfectly polite society 
with deep inequalities (Victorian England, anyone?). One of the 
advantages of aging out of the category of "possibly sexually 
interesting" is that the overt form dies down considerably.[1] The 
covert inequality remains.

The discussion here of mentoring and of deciding who gets to be in the 
code4lib community is a great start for moving beyond just preventing 
harassment. I would like to see us develop more comfort with *anyone* 
being able to say: I don't feel like I'm being treated equally. (It will 
probably not be worded that way.) Even better will be for us to look out 
for each other: "Hey, x said that ten minutes ago and you nixed it -- 
now that z has said the same thing it's called a "good idea." I think we 
should give some credit to z. [Everyone turns and nods admiringly at z.] 
" This is behavior that is encouraged in "how to be a better manager" 
lessons, but it's a kind of management that we should practice with 
colleagues wherever we are. Make sure that everyone is acknowledged for 
their contributions.

This is much more complex than dealing with overt harassment, but it is 
what builds self-confidence and visibility for members of the community 
who may otherwise feel less accepted. It only works, however, if those 
who speak up are respected, not rejected. Speaking up definitely rocks 
the boat, and the response can be quite negative. That's what we have to 
to persist against, until both speakers and those spoken-to can be 
comfortable with this process.

kc

[1] http://fatuglyorslutty.com gathers grotesquely inappropriate 
messages in gaming, but I admit that I enjoy the witty rejoinders -- 
rather cathartic. I learned about this over the #1reasonwhy tsunami of 
posts that has been on Twitter the past 48 hours or so.

On 11/28/12 2:28 PM, Karen Coyle wrote:
> c4l'rs
>
> Obviously mentoring is a great idea, but it implies a pairing of 
> skilled/less-skilled folks and therefore makes me a bit uneasy in our 
> current context (although no one has said this) because it seems to 
> imply that if we bring up the skills of women they will be treated 
> equally. In fact, we have ample proof that this is not the case. 
> Therefore, I want to promote a concept beyond mentoring: promoting. 
> Also known as: giving credit where credit is due. Make sure that we 
> equally acknowledge and celebrate the technical achievements of women. 
> We already have women doing great geeky stuff, but it's kind of like 
> Mitt Romney's "binder full of women" -- they aren't visible.
>
> Sounds easy, right? I think we'll all find that it's harder than it 
> sounds, but we should be making a conscious effort.
>
> Let me give a personal anecdote. I was doing some consulting for a 
> large organization, and we got to the point that we needed an XML 
> schema for our metadata. The organization had an uber-geek, and so the 
> task was given to him. After a considerable while (about 2 months) we 
> started pushing for this schema, and finally met with uber-geek who 
> said some strange things about some theory of XML, and essentially we 
> intuited that he didn't know XML schema, was taking a strange path in 
> terms of learning it, and it was clear we wouldn't be getting our 
> schema from him. I went home and wrote the schema (thank you 
> O'Reilly!). Now, you might think that I would have earned geek points 
> for that. But I didn't. In fact, no mention was ever made of the fact 
> that I, rather than uber-geek, wrote the schema. I suspect this would 
> have been an embarrassment to all who looked up to uber-geek, being 
> "bested" by a girl. I don't know how this would have gone were I 
> carrying a Y chromosome, but my guess is that the outcome would have 
> been different, that a sub-uber guy would have been given some credit 
> (while still saving face for uber-geek). This type of scenario plays 
> out many, many times a day. I'm sure it doesn't only happen to women, 
> but it happens to women regularly enough (think about the pay 
> differential that we still live with) that it's quite discouraging.
>
> So I see it as my duty, and hope some will join me, to make sure that 
> women's efforts are recognized, publicized, and, if necessary, made 
> "in-your-face" until women in tech achieve the visibility they deserve.
>
> kc
>

-- 
Karen Coyle
[log in to unmask] http://kcoyle.net
ph: 1-510-540-7596
m: 1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet

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